In Praise of Cats

“I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”
― Hippolyte Taine (French critic and historian)

“I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.”
Jules Verne (French novelist, poet and playwright)


“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
Jean Cocteau (French writer, artist and filmmaker)

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
Ernest Hemingway (American novelist)

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“If you want to write, keep cats.”
—  Aldous Huxley (English author and screenwriter)

All photos (except the cat with the book) are copyrighted by Heather Joan Marinos and they may not be used or reproduced 

© Copyright 2017 Heather Joan Marinos. All rights reserved.

 

For the Love of Books

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles William Eliot

Check out the New York Times article, “What You’ll Be Reading in 2017”  here.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: Take the time to read

2017

Scroll_Grey

It’s a new year, ladies and gentlemen!
May it be a good one for all of us!
This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stems from some of the sage words and wisdom of the great philosophers  and literary figures of all time.
I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.

Scroll_Grey

Take the time to curl up in a comfortable chair and read a book. Read, not skim. A book, not a tablet or computer screen.  Turn your phone off, close your computer and let yourself be transported into a beautiful piece of literature, a gripping bestseller, an interesting biography, or a thought-provoking work of non-fiction.  Reading is quite simply the best therapy in the world. It’s right up there with music, dance and art. Therapy aside, reading helps you to relax and de-stress.  And, of course, there is something to be said about learning new things, opening up your mind and… actually stimulating your mind.

 “The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one’s encounter with it in a book.”

André Maurois

I have always been a bookworm. As a child, when my friends would knock on our door and ask my mother whether I was coming out to play, I would tell them that I was in the middle of a good chapter and would come out when finished. Several hours later, I would join them and smile sheepishly as they rolled their eyes at me.

“I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their storage chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily, use them, thumb them, batter them, wear them out… who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.”

Erasmus

A decade ago, I used to read at least three books a week and as 2016 drew to an end, I realized that I had read only 20 or so books throughout the year. For me, that is unacceptable! It’s also simply not in character. Clearly my priorities were all wrong. This will change in 2017.

So I encourage each of you to pick up a good book and take the time to savour each word. Then pick up another.

Happy reading!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, this is not a photo of me. I hail from the Baby Boomer generation. This is a photo of a young Millennial who is clearly enjoying a good read.

In Memoriam 2016 – the loved and the lost

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

– John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

inmemoriam2016

Marcus Aurelius, the Last of the Five Good Emperors

Some great quotes to live by…..

… so, I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days and for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (October), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Roman philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.

MARCUS AURELIUS

443px-marcus_aurelius_equestrian_2d

Here are some famous quotes by Marcus Aurelius:

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

Marcus Aurelius or Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (121 AD – 180 AD), was the Roman emperor from 161-180 AD. He is believed to be the last of the Five Good Emperors. He was also among the foremost Stoic philosophers of his time, as evidenced by his greatest work, Meditations, written entirely in Greek. He wrote this while he was conducting his military campaign. He took lessons in oration from two Greek tutors and one Latin tutor. The Roman aristocracy of the time still valued Greek as a language and used it prolifically. Marcus Aurelius epitomized the Golden Age of the Roman Empire.

HIS MOST FAMOUS WORK:

  • Meditations

Cicero, the embodiment of “humanitas”

Some great quotes to live by…..

… so, I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days and for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (October), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Roman philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.

CICERO

220px-m-t-cicero

Here are some famous quotes by Cicero. (note how well they apply to our social and political condition today):

“Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:
Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;
Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;
Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;
Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;
Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;
Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.”

For all you book lovers:

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

Some tongue-in-cheek humor aimed at all you book writers out there (like me):

“Times are bad.  Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

And always remember:

“Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC to 43 BC) – a Roman politician, lawyer, and orator who was born into a wealthy Roman equestrian family. He represented one of the few in a new generation of men in Rome – to be the first man in his family to become a senator, and gain the highest office of consul. Cicero was best known for preventing the Catiline Conspiracy, as well as his philosophical works and devotion to the Republic. Although he was invited to join the powerful political union formed by Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, Cicero refused and instead became an opponent of Caesar. Years later, he met his death at the hands of a soldier named Herennius, who had been ordered by Mark Anthony to kill him during the proscriptions of the Second Triumvirate.

One of the greatest Roman orators and prose stylists of his time. Cicero was also a philosopher, politician, lawyer, political theorist and a constitutionalist. He was also famous for introducing neologisms such as: evidentia, humanitas, qualitas, quantitas, and essentia.

READ SOME OF HIS MOST FAMOUS WORKS:

10 Great Books to Read this Summer

Cat

Summertime is that wonderful season when everything slows down just a tad. It’s when all the bookworms come out of the woodwork –– to grab that enticing novel, inspiring non-fiction or juicy biography that they finally have the time to read. Work attire is hurriedly replaced by t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.  And with tall, ice-cold glasses of their favorite libation, they curl up comfortably and begin their summer reads.

These are my (heatherfromthegrove) top picks – all sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. I just poured myself a glass of white wine and grabbed a book I’ve been dying to read: And the Weak Suffer What They Must? – by Yanis Varoufakis. Now, off to my comfy chair on the patio…

Enjoy!

– Heather

(PS – Hover your mouse over the book titles and authors’ names to get the link to the Amazon and Author’s Bio URLs)

FICTION

1birdssky300

 1. All the Birds in the Sky – by Charlie Jane Anders

“Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths…When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world-and live up to his reputation-in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments.As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.”

ManNoShadowJCO_Proper-thumb-300x453-418703

 2. The Man Without a Shadow – by Joyce Carol Oates

“In 1965, neuroscientist Margot Sharpe meets the attractive, charismatic Elihu Hoopes—the “man without a shadow”—whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and most studied amnesiac in history. Over the course of the next thirty years, Margot herself becomes famous for her experiments with E. H.—and inadvertently falls in love with him, despite the ethical ambiguity of their affair, and though he remains forever elusive and mysterious to her, haunted by mysteries of the past….”

TheyMayNot

 3. They May Not Mean To, But They Do – by Cathleen Schine

A “hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love.”

“The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don’t just grow, they grow old, and the clan’s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished. When Joy’s beloved husband dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. And they didn’t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids…”

UnspeakableThingsProper-thumb-300x481-421492

 4. Unspeakable Things – by Kathleen Spivack

“A wild, erotic novel—a daring debut—from the much-admired, award-winning poet, author of Flying Inland, A History of Yearning, and With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, and Others. A strange, haunting novel about survival and love in all its forms; about sexual awakenings and dark secrets; about European refugee intellectuals who have fled Hitler’s armies with their dreams intact and who have come to an elusive new (American) “can do, will do” world they cannot seem to find. A novel steeped in surreal storytelling and beautiful music that transports its half-broken souls—and us—to another realm of the senses.”

Shelter

 5. Shelter – by Jung Yum

“You can never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family s future….

… As “Shelter” veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. “Shelter” is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one’s family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.”

NON-FICTION

414Q4ZNUNvL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

6. Evicted (Poverty and Profit in the American City) – by Matthew Desmond

“From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.”
 
“In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind…”

TheBook 7. The Book – by Keith Houston

“We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages―of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity’s most important―and universal―information technology.”

WhenBreath8. When Breath Becomes Air – by Paul Kalanithi

“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. 

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.”

“I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book’s tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: ‘It’s just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.’ And just important enough to be unmissable.”— Janet MaslinThe New York Times

cityofthorns9. City of Thorns (Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp) – by Ben Rawlence

“To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.”

“In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.”

Varou10. And the Weak Suffer What They Must? (Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future) – by Yanis Varoufakis

“A titanic battle is being waged for Europe’s integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism.”

“Varoufakis delivers a fresh look at the history of Europe’s crisis and America’s central role in it. He presents the ultimate case against austerity, proposing concrete policies for Europe that are necessary to address its crisis and avert contagion to America, China, and the rest of the world. With passionate, informative, and at times humorous prose, he warns that the implosion of an admittedly crisis–ridden and deeply irrational European monetary union should, and can, be avoided at all cost.”

Happy reading! 

book-759873_960_720

Cat and Book photos via pixabay.com.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: Celebrate Life

4223395387_b25c9b26c1_o

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

Ashley Smith

As we reach the end of the first week of January, I wanted to finish off my 7 New Year’s Revelations on a jazzy note. Despite all of the ups and downs, dramas and drollery…. life is precious and meant to be celebrated.  Gain wisdom and strength from the difficult times and focus on the beauty of  everything – from the simple to the sublime.

Take the time to eat dinner by candlelight and talk with those you love – without glancing at your smartphone! In fact, put the damned smartphone on the charger and turn it off for rest of the night! Communicate with actual spoken words, rather than texts. Put your favorite music on … nice and loud…. and dance around the house! Kiss that special person in your life… long and slow.  Don’t rush through a meal… savour the taste of  good food and libation. Don’t guzzle a drink… sip it slowly.  You’re not going to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight… so take your time.

And, remember….. the best is yet to come.

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

Mary Ann Radmacher

Some Book Recommendations:

Rites of Passage: Celebrating Life’s Changes – by Kathleen Wall & Gary Ferguson

51C7HA0RCRL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_

Life, Love, Laughter: Celebrating Your Existence  – by Osho

6533738

Loving Life After Sixty: Celebrating the Autumn of Your Life by Tom Paugh

bk

 

 

Photo via flickr.com

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: Beyond the olive branch

Kruft_St._Dionysius_und_Sebastian_2212

“Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds, they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.”    

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Why can’t we all just get along?

People have been warring since the beginning of time. Tribes. Religious sects. Nations.

And, yes, families.

As I said a few days back, “It all begins and ends with Family.” How can we expect nations to coexist in peace and harmony when many of us can’t even manage to keep our families intact?

There are so many stressors that lead to family conflict: financial problems, joblessness, addiction, illness, death, inheritance and even something as basic as incompatible and/or strong personalities. It is healthy and normal to argue, debate and occasionally fight.  It is unhealthy and hateful to harm others – physically, emotionally, in their business and their reputation within society.

Problems rarely, if ever, solve themselves. Resolution (to problems) usually requires compromise, which inevitably results in loss (i.e. giving something up, to keep the peace).  If  there is love, respect and a willingness to work through the conflict – because of a deep-seated desire to keep the family together – then there is hope.  Sometimes an outside mediator, such as a therapist, counsellor or spiritual guide (i.e. priest/minister/rabbi/imam) may be needed to assist with the process of resolution and reconciliation.  Hopefully, the conflict gets resolved… without too much collateral damage.

“Problems are like washing machines. They twist us, spin us and knock us around but in the end we come out cleaner, brighter and better than before.”    

– Unknown

But what if we can’t all just get along? Not now. Not ever. It happens all the time.  Parents divorce. Children leave home for good, pledging never to return. Siblings each go their own way, losing all communication with each other. Family members become estranged. It’s sad, even tragic, when that happens.

I don’t have any answers. What I do know for sure is that family is fundamental to our well-being.  That said, for family to coexist as a united and loving unit… each and every family member must want it to be so.  Some people need time, space and distance to gain perspective and eventually reunite.

Alas, there are some families so fractured that they are beyond the olive branch.

And everyone moves on – each going his/her separate way.

Sometimes it’s for the better.

“Sometimes problems don’t require a solution to solve them; instead they require maturity to outgrow them.”    

Steve Maraboli

Some Book Recommendations:

Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations and Communitiesby Rick Love

41h-ESc1zoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Mom Always Liked You Best: A Guide for Resolving Family Feuds, Inheritance Battles & Eldercare Crises Arline Kardasis and Rikk Larsen

41bPiIkRtQL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

 

*Note: The title of today’s Blog – “Beyond the olive branch” – is the title of Volume 4 in my Baby Boomer Series™ of books (in progress

Photo via Wikimedia Commons